With the airbase in Ambala prepared to welcome five Rafale jets, the former chief of Indian Air Force (IAF), BS Dhanoa has hailed the "game changing jets," saying that China's J-20 doesn't even come close to the fresh dispatch from France.
The comments of Dhanoa, the architect of last year's Balakot airstrikes, assume significance in the light of raging Indo-China tensions along the LAC.
Years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inked a deal with France, of Rs. 59,000 crore, the first batch of five Rafale jets left for India this week.
India is set to receive three dozen of the most advanced fighter jets from the European country by 2021.
Notably, Chief of Air Staff RKS Bhadauria will receive the jets, India's first major acquisition in two decades.
Evidently, the Rafale jets have been tailored especially for IAF. These jets have cold engine start capability, that will come handy in high-altitude areas like Leh.
Moreover, these fighter planes can participate in ground and sea attacks as well.
They will be armed with METEOR, a missile made by European company MBDA and SCALP cruise missiles, as well as MICA air-to-air missiles.
Rafale is also capable of carrying 10 tonnes of weapons and five tonnes of fuel.
While IAF planned to install SPICE 2000 missiles on Rafale jets, it will now arm the jets with HAMMER missiles, immediately.
In the future, Rafale could be armed with France's all-weather smart weapon, which can allow engagement with ground targets from a range of up to 60 kilometer.
Well-versed with the features of Rafale, Dhanoa said India will have an upper hand if the current tensions with China snowball into a serious conflict.
While speaking to HT, Dhanoa noted that Chinese J-20 fifth-generation fighter jets pose threat, but with Rafale and Su-30 MKI, India will be able to reply to China's aggression.
Even Pakistan knows China's jets aren't wondrous, he hinted.
"If Chinese equipment was so good, then why did the Pakistanis only use F-16 aircraft to attack Nangi Tekri brigade in the Rajouri sector on February 27, 2019, with Chinese JF-17 merely being surrounded by Mirage 3/5 and American fighters," he asked.
However, Dhanoa underscored that China's surface-to-air missiles pose a threat. But if air defense cover is blown, that too won't cause much harm.
He added that with Rafale's advanced terrain following weapons and level II of Digital Terrain Elevation Data, the error "probability is reduced to mere 10 meter."
"As I have said in the past, Rafale is a game changer," he added.
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